Martin Foreman
First and Fiftieth


The Stories
   Kitchen Table
   Night Traffic
   Basement
   Pokhara
   Foucault's Nightmare
   Homophobia, Darling
   Cold Silence
   Los Feliz
   Judy
   Ten Million Years
   The Last Saturday in May
   Angel
   First and Fiftieth
   Ben and Joe's
   Sunset



   Commentary
   Reviews



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The Author
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   Also Available
   Biography
   Bibliography
   Contact



   A View from the Edge
   Arbery Books
   Arbery Productions
   God would be an atheist

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Basement


An 20-year-old youth somewhere in the USA
opening paragraphs


Oh no, don go to sleep, girl. Not now, when we got so much to talk about. Where we gonna live, when we gonna get married,
stuff like that. I can’ decide it all. You gotta help. It’s the two of us together, now.

Sides, if you sleep, you won’t hear me tell you
I love you. I try tell you before but you never wan hear. But now you know. I showed you. I

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showed you how much. I love you, girl. Always have. Always will.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. Ah kid make that sound. It’s just one chord. Play it fast an loud an let it slowly die down. No, that’s no it. It’s no one car at a time; it’s several, all makin a slightly different sound. One’s flat, one’s sharp. Long, short. There’s a second’s silence, just the vibration an suddenly there’s another an another an another. Ye kid lay down a whole song. Tighten it up, give it rhythm, but no so much that it’s predictable. Call it Cars in the Night. Night Traffic. Somethin like that. A modern version a that Tom Robinson number. It wis okay in its day but it’s time fir somethin new, fir the twenty-first century. “Racing down the motorway, don’t give a damn what other people say. Living ma life, no need for a wife, with ma man, we’re roaming the land.” Somethin like that. A song that shouts at the world, that really tells it what it’s like.

Cause you beautiful. You the most beautiful girl I ever seen. With yo shiny straight hair and yo big eyes and red lips. An the pretty clothes you wear. I wan you from the first day you move into the street and walk by our door. You was with some of yo friends, laughin and that. It was a hot day and you was in a tight black top and short skirt and you looked so good.


Next story: Pokhara




All Rights Reserved / World Copyright © Martin Foreman 2015




"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."

First and Fiftieth



Background & Comment

Here too I am uncertain of the inspiration. The first draft of this story was written as a monologue for my partner (now ex) to use for auditions. He was less than enthusiastic about the idea. Certainly the story is as far removed from his experience as it from mine.

It's probably the story I am least confident with in the collection. Despite the fact I've lived in the States and my second family is black, I'm sure I don't have the accent and vocabulary right. And there are bound to be readers and critics who feel that it is not acceptable for a white middle-class Brit to write a story, particularly a downbeat one, as an African-American.

My response is firstly, as with Night Traffic, it is the character and story that is important, and I think these overcome the defects of the language, and secondly, the argument that one can only write about what one has directly experienced would deprive the world of most of its great literature. This story is certainly not in that league, but the point remains that writers should always have the courage to explore other situations, without the arrogance of assuming that they have succeeeded.



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